In its 50th anniversary season, the Albany Symphony Orchestra announces ambitious plans for the 2013-2014 season. The ASO is offering nine unique concerts, including three matinees, for a total of 12 performances — more than ever — at two concert venues.
Darton State College’s Theater, an intimate setting, is the site of six performances with the remaining three concerts to be held in the Albany Municipal Auditorium.
The second annual Willson Chamber Music Series has three concerts planned for the Albany Museum of Art on Sundays at 4 p.m. The inaugural series last year proved to be increasingly popular with the audiences.
“The Albany Symphony Orchestra’s 50th anniversary season offers choices and options designed for everyone’s busy lifestyles and tastes. We are offering varied choices of music, choices of matinees and evening performances, concert venues and choices of concert days,” commented Claire Fox Hillard, ASO Music Director.
“The Albany Symphony was founded in 1964 and I am proud to say that we have continued this Albany tradition for going on 50 consecutive seasons,” said Jim Bullion, Albany Symphony Association President.
On Sept. 28, “East Meets West”, will feature internationally renowned guzheng artist Su Chang performing “Identity: Zhongshand Zhuang,” a striking and distinctive piece that combines the richness of the Western orchestra with a 3,800-year-old Chinese folk instrument. A collaboration between American composer and Michael Gordon Shapiro and Chinese producer/composer Victor Cheng, “Identity” bears the musical signature of Eastern and Western musical traditions. Eastern influences will also be heard as the orchestra performs Hindemith’s Symphonic Metamorphosis of Themes by Carl Maria von Weber and von Weber’s Overture to Die Freischutz. This season opening concert will be held in the Darton Theater at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. An encore performance will take place on Sept. 29 at 3:00 p.m. at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College’s ABAC Presents! Series in Tifton.
On Nov. 16, in the auditorium at 7:30 p.m., “Beethoven in Blue Jeans” will bring pianist Awadagin Pratt acclaimed for his musical insight and intensely involving performances. “The symphony will wear jeans while performing and attendees are strongly encouraged to don denim as well. This is to reinforce the notion that classical music and the symphony is for everyone,” Hillard said.
The symphony will follow that performance with a Celtic Holiday Celebration on Dec. 7 at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. at the theater. Mithril is one of the most sought after Celtic/World music groups on the concert series scene. The band’s unique progressive style has its roots in traditional Celtic music but moves far beyond that, weaving such diverse influences as American folk, classical and Middle Eastern melodies into their full tapestry of sound. Mithril joins the ASO for this seasonal performance which includes holiday favorites, audience participation and music with a Celtic flavor.
Back in the auditorium on Feb. 15 at 7:30 p.m. to celebrate Black History Month, the symphony will present the Roots of Jazz with the “Classically Jazzed Quartet with Ken Trimmins,” tracing the musical roots of jazz with music from the Baroque period, 19th century and blues influenced classical compositions. In 2011, Trimmins, trumpet professor at Albany State University and a member of the ASO, was invited by the U. S. State Department to be a cultural envoy to Honduras as a classical trumpet soloist with the National Philharmonic Orchestra. He was asked to return, taking the jazz group along. Their concerts sold out and the quartet decided to offer this unique combination of classical and jazz elements to U. S. symphonies and around the world. Locations for future performances include Italy and China.
Also, “The Orchestra Sings” Family Concert, the ASO’s expanded version of its Carnegie Hall LinkUp concert, will be in the auditorium on Mar. 14 at 7:30 p.m. This fun-filled interactive performance includes an Orchestra Instrument Petting Zoo at 6:30 p.m. and selections from Copland’s “Old American Folk Songs,” Dvorak’s “New World” Symphony, Stravinsky’s “Firebird Suite,” Brahms’ “Symphony No. 1″ and more.
The gala 50th anniversary season finale, an Evening of Italian Opera, will feature overtures, choruses, arias, ensembles and highlights from Italian Opera performed by the symphony with the combined choirs of Albany State University, Darton State College, Georgia Southwestern University, Macon State University, the Albany Chorale and Southwest Civic Chorus on Apr. 12, in the theater, at 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. In addition, soloists will perform favorites from Rossini, Verdi, Puccini, Donizetti and more. This concert is dedicated to the memory of the late Anna Louise McCormack, a long-time symphony supporter. An encore performance will be held on Apr. 13 at the Rylander Theater in Americus.
The Willson Chamber Music Series kicks off on Oct. 20 with the Telsa String Quartet, winner of the gold medal at the 2012 Fischoff National Chamber Music Competition and third prize in the 2012 London International String Quartet Competition. The quartet was formed in 2008 at the Juilliard School. On Jan. 19, the Scirocco Wind Quartet, formed in 2010 by flutist Elizabeth Goode, oboist Susan Brashier, clarinetist Peter Geldrich and bassoonist Shannon Lowe, will be featured. Based in south Georgia, they enjoy an active schedule of regional and national performances. On Mar. 2 , the Tallahassee Bach Parley Ensemble will perform music of the Baroque era using period instruments as often as possible to recreate the experience of listening to this music as it may have sounded hundreds of years ago. As professional performers and teachers, many of them also perform in Baroque music groups around the country, such as Atlanta, New York and Boston. A reception follows each performance.
Each of the masterworks, or subscription concerts, except “The Orchestra Sings,” are preceded at 6:30 p.m. by complimentary Pre-Concert Notes, insights into the performances by the conductor and guests artists from the stage. Also, those attending these concerts may join the Conductor’s Circle post-concert receptions to mingle and meet and greet Maestro Hillard and guest artists in a location adjacent to the concerts. Admission is $15 per person or a season membership is available for $50.
Season tickets for various packages for adults range from $200 for dress circle to $62 for orchestra and first balcony. Single tickets range from $25 to $35 with the chamber series priced at $20.
The ASO is a fully professional per service orchestra serving the southwest Georgia region with classical, pops, educational and special concerts. The symphony draws professional performers and artists from a 100-mile radius and offers these artists many opportunities to perform. Recognized for its innovative audience developmental efforts and diverse programming, the orchestra has received the League of American Orchestras and American Society of Composers Authors Publishers (ASCAP) awards on multiple occasions.
Individual tickets can be purchased online at www.albanysymphony.org beginning in August. For a season brochure and more information, contact the symphony office at (229) 430-8933.